T-wave alternans and sudden cardiac death

Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2008 Mar;7(1):21-8. doi: 10.1097/HPC.0b013e318163f235.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading cause of mortality in patients with ischemic heart disease and left ventricular dysfunction. The majority of SCD are due to ventricular tachyarrhythmias. SCD strikes many asymptomatic patients and often is the first manifestation of heart disease. Thus, reliable determination of arrhythmic risk is warranted to guide preventive therapy. To highlight the prognostic value of microvolt-level electrical alternans of the T-wave (MTWA) in patients at risk for SCD, most of the pertinent published articles in the Medline, Scopus, and EBSCO Host research databases have been reviewed. MTWA has been proposed to be a strong and independent predictor of all-cause and arrhythmic mortality. The high predictive value of MTWA in patient with cardiomyopathy varies significantly depending on the population studied. Combining with other indices or having serial MTWA readings could overcome MTWA limitations. Redefining MTWA readings may expand its prognostic utility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies / mortality*
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart Conduction System
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / complications*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / diagnosis*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy